Our mission is to provide patient-centered care for allergies and asthma.

Dust Allergies

An allergy to dust can lead to year-round allergy symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. Dust that is visible to the human eye contains the bodies of dead dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic and difficult to see with the naked eye. They can live on bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets, and curtains, where they feed on the flakes of skin shed by people and their pets. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments. An allergy to dust can develop when your immune system labels dust mite proteins as harmful to the body.

What Causes Dust Allergies?

Dust allergies are most often — but not exclusively — caused by dust mites, tiny microscopic insects that live in our homes. They are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye. A house doesn’t have to show visible signs of dust for dust mites to be present and cause an allergic reaction.

Dust mites are related to ticks and spiders and thrive in warm, humid environments. As a result, they often die off when humidity levels drop. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), dust mites prefer warmer temperatures, over 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with the humidity at least 75 to 80%. Dust mites are rarely found in drier climates.

Dust mites eat the skin cells that people shed. On average, a person sheds about one and a half grams of skin a day. As a result, dust mites are commonly found in bedding, furniture, and carpets. These everyday household items provide an ideal place for dust mites to live. Unfortunately, vacuuming and dusting can actually aggravate an individual’s allergies because those activities stir up dust mites, making them easier to inhale. People who are allergic, react to both the mites themselves and their waste, both of which they can inhale.

Signs and Symptoms of a Dust Allergy

About 20 million Americans live with an allergy to dust mites. The most common dust mite allergy symptoms are quite similar to those associated with an allergy to pollen. They include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, red, or watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth, or throat
  • Postnasal drip
  • Cough
  • Facial pressure and pain
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes
  • In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose

For someone with asthma, an allergy to dust mites may also lead to the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • An audible whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • Bouts of coughing or wheezing that are worsened by a respiratory virus such as a cold or flu

These symptoms will differ from person to person, and they can also vary in terms of severity. Some people may only experience an occasional runny nose and sneezing because of dust mites. Someone else may develop a more chronic condition that leads them to an ongoing cough or congestion, or even a more serious issue, such as an asthma attack.

Are Dust Mites the Only Cause of Dust Allergies?

No. Other dust allergy triggers include:

  • Cockroaches: These pests are found in many types of buildings and neighborhoods. Household dust can contain tiny particles from roaches that can also cause an allergic reaction.
  • Mold: There are many types of mold, only some of which are visible to people. Spores from mold can become airborne and, as a result, be inhaled, triggering an allergic reaction. Mold is found both in homes and the natural world. It is especially common indoors in rooms that contain moisture such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Pollen: The pollen from trees, grasses, weeds, and flowers is commonly found within household dust. People who are allergic to pollen may only be allergic to the pollen of a specific weed or flower.
  • Animal hair, fur, and feathers: There are many parts of an animal or pet that can cause an allergic reaction. Some people may be allergic to the dander (skin flakes) of cats or dogs. Someone else may be allergic to a bird’s feathers. Even a pet’s urine or saliva may cause someone to have an allergic reaction when combined with dust.

What are Common Treatments for Dust Allergies?

If a doctor suspects someone has a dust allergy, they may suggest an allergy skin test or a blood test. The allergy skin test involves a doctor pricking the skin and applying a tiny amount of dust mite extract to the site. If an individual has an allergy to dust mites, their skin will become itchy and red. A blood test looks for certain antibodies that can indicate a dust mite allergy.

Once a doctor has confirmed that their patient is allergic to dust mites, they may prescribe several medications to help alleviate their symptoms. Over-the-counter options include:

  • Antihistamines: Help to relieve itching, sneezing, and watery eyes
  • Decongestants: Work to ease or unclog a stuffy nose
  • Nasal steroids: Aid in reducing swelling in the nose to improve breathing
  • Leukotriene modifiers: Serve to block certain chemicals in the immune system

Allergy shots or oral pills (both forms of immunotherapy) can also help to train the immune system to not react to the allergen.

How to Control Dust Allergies At Home?

While medications and immunotherapy can help a person manage or alleviate the symptoms of a dust mite allergy, it is also important to take preventative measures within the home to help reduce the amount of dust on surfaces and in the air. Some recommendations are to include:

  • Avoid carpeting. Where possible, it is better to have wood flooring, especially in bedrooms, in order to reduce dust.
  • Use mite-proof mattress and pillow covers. These fabric coverings stop mites from gathering in the mattress and pillows.
  • Switch to polyester-filled pillows. Feather pillows can harbor dust mites.
  • Wash bed linens in hot water regularly. Water over 130 degrees Fahrenheit kills dust mites, as does drying them in a hot dryer.
  • Clean floors with a wet mop. This helps to avoid stirring up dust.
  • Use HEPA filters in HVAC units and vacuums. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters trap dust mites. The HVAC filter should have a MERV rating of 11-13 and be replaced every three months.
  • Switch out drapes for roll-up window shades. If this isn’t possible, wash your curtains seasonally.
  • When dusting, use a damp cloth. Dry dusting causes dust particles to be moved around.
  • Wash or freeze stuffed animals and soft toys. Doing this helps to kill dust mites collected on their surface.
  • Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner. This reduces the humidity in a home. Since dust mites thrive in humid environments and can’t live in an environment where the humidity is 50% or less, this may also reduce their presence.
  • Freezing non-washable bedding overnight to kill dust mites.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom of the allergic person. If the dust allergy is caused by a pet, this will help reduce allergic triggers.

These strategies, plus treatment from a medical professional, may be able to help individuals better manage their dust allergy long-term.

Dust Allergy Testing and Treatment

If over-the-counter medications and the above steps cannot provide enough relief, additional treatment may be needed. The Columbia Allergy team can provide testing to confirm an allergy to dust mites.

Treatment options for a dust allergy include subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) or sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Both treatments desensitize the immune system to reduce the reaction to the dust mite protein. You may also be a candidate for our intralymphatic immunotherapy (ILIT) treatment in Fremont, California that can provide faster results!

If you are suffering from a dust allergy, call your nearest location or schedule an appointment online today!

Additional Dust Allergy Resources

Do You Suffer From Allergies and Asthma?

Don’t let allergies run your life. Talk to a Columbia Allergy clinic today to find relief.

Monica H.
“First time at allergy specialist they really care about my kids lifestyle they care more about their patients that their wallet. Now days that's a keeper.. ”

David W.
“Adam and the staff were great at considering my concerns, explaining my results and listening to my questions. Plus everyone was on time and things moved swiftly. ”

Prashant S.
“Absolutely exceptional. The doctor, team and facilities are the best you could ask for. We have never felt more comfortable and safe. With the approach we have taken with our son and has made the whole process so much easier. You guys makes difference in people’s lives”
Noah J.
“Nothing worse than worrying about every cookie and ice cream snack out there that sends us to the ER. Dr.Jain and Dr. Gandhe who are the best. Their expertise and kindness have given us back both dessert and peace of mind. I don't know which one is more appreciated. ”
Hana L.
"Dr.Gandhe always puts my son at ease before treatment. She talks to him directly and in an age appropriate way. My son looks forward to visiting her and the other staff. When I have questions about treatment she responds clearly and, during after hours, Dr. Gandhe responds very quickly. We feel well cared for."
Amy M.
"Dr. Gandhe gives us excellent personalized treatment for my son’s peanut and tree nut allergy. She has a heart for kids with allergies and I feel very safe under her care. My son has already made great progress with his tree nut allergy"
Nikko Y.
"Best Office Ever!"
Georgia B.
"One of the best doctors + staff I have ever met. The care and professionalism is out of this world! We feel comforted and safe at our visit "
"Dr. Jain is very kind and friendly as well as the staff "
Graciela R.
"Dr.Jain and Melissa Hutton PA-C are the best allergy providers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. The entire staff is kind and helpful. My allergy care is comprehensive and I never feel rushed through an appointment-"
"Best decision we have made in my son’s life so far"
Merritt F.
"We are very confident with Dr. Jain’s treatment plans and recommendations. The staff at the Fremont office is amazing"
Cherylyn V.
"Amazing and awesome team for scary and life-threatening allergies"
Manalie J.
"Dr.Gandhe is very patient, explains everything in great detail and answered all of our questions. It helped to ease out our Anxiety about OIT"
Walter M.
"Dr. Gandhe is great, thoughtful, and a caring provider. All staff is fantastic as well!"
Sarah S.
"We are likely (5 stars) to recommend Dr. Jain to friends and family. Our experience here has been so positive and supportive. It is great clinic and has given us great hopes in treating our son"
Khushi P.
"Extremely great experience. Truly God sent figures. Dr. Jain and Melissa are such wonderful and humble doctors, I have ever met. Thank You. Dr Jain and the entire staff for being with us through the journey. I will recommend him to all the people that I know with allergies
Amrita M.
"Dr. Gandhe has been more than a blessing for us. We love her! She’s so great at talking explaining and planning everything. Her treatment has been spot on and I am so thankful we found you. We love all the nurses, they are so patient and loving"